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Newmarket boss wants to lose Newcastle tag

TIGHTEN UP: Kevin Grainger wants his Newmarket Town side to stop shipping so many goals
TIGHTEN UP: Kevin Grainger wants his Newmarket Town side to stop shipping so many goals

Kevin Grainger is eager for his Newmarket Town side to stray away from comparisons with the Newcastle United team of 1995/96 as quickly as possible.

Dubbed ‘The Entertainers’ for a host of swashbuckling displays during that particular campaign, Kevin Keegan’s Magpies famously squandered a 12-point lead in the Premier League title race to Manchester United.

With the likes of David Ginola and Faustino Asprilla to call upon, Newcastle scored goals at will, yet were always susceptible up the other end of the pitch — none more so was this true than during the memorable 4-3 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

And Grainger has seen similar traits of late from his Jockeys, who have scored an impressive 22 times but shipped a concerning 16 goals during their opening eight league matches this term.

“It is more than fair to say that people are getting their money’s worth when they watch us,” said the Newmarket boss.

“But in truth it is frustrating and too much like Keegan’s Newcastle for my liking — we do not want to be like that.

“It is a combination of things. We are not gelling in defence and because we are so strong going forward, we tend to forget our defensive duties.

“We are taking the lead in games, not scoring the second goal when we are well on top and then shipping goals in two and threes.

“We recruited seven players in the summer and while we have a very good group of lads, it takes time to come together.

“Make no mistake, we are working to sort it out and we will do it.”

Despite their leaky rearguard, the positive for Grainger and his coaching staff is that Newmarket still find themselves second in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table — just a point behind leaders and rivals Mildenhall Town.

However, their grip on that position is likely to come under pressure on Saturday when Stanway Rovers visit the Ridgeons Stadium (3pm).

“It is a real test — probably our biggest so far this season,” added Grainger. “They are a physically strong side and started the season as favourites with most people to win the league. But they are conceding goals and while it is not as many as we are right now, that still gives us confidence that they are beatable.

“If we can deal with their threat in the air I am confident we will have enough quality to win the game.”

Steve Holder and James Chivers, both of whom were unavailable for last week’s 4-4 draw at Swaffham Town, will return to the squad for Stanway. Matt Hayden remains sidelined, but the striker has stepped up his recovery from an ankle injury and could be back in action next month.